Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Christmas

I'm in Christmas holiday mode and prioritizing people over making and posting for while. So here's a belated Happy Christmas wish to everybody. I'll have plenty of pics to choose from when I get back to blogging in a week or so.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Today is my last day for Christmas making. I hope there will be time for some creative play, but first I need to finish some of the things I've been working on. I mean really finish.

The saying goes, "the job's not done until the paperwork's done". For me it's a case of "the job's not done until the fastenings are attached". I'll start on that while I brew myself another coffee. Then I can go out to the studio and have some fun.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Conversation Starter

I was sitting at the hairdresser yesterday afternoon when I received a message from young R: "Could you maybe help me with some sewing repairs?". We were planning a quick catch up and easy tea in the evening. Speaking from experience I sent back, "I'll have a go. Do I need any supplies?" "Yeah, maybe a heavy duty needle . . . it's a hole in a bag." R has just returned from a World Challenge trip to South East Asia. My imagination started to fill in possibilities of what "a hole in a bag" might mean.  I'm always amused and a little bit proud when my friends' children treat me as the "go to" person for fixing things, though sometimes I feel that a magic wand is the required tool rather than any of my textile supplies. I wasn't planning to go home before our catch up. Nor was I sure that I had suitable needles at home. And they're always useful things to have around. Instead of coming home to search my studio, I stopped off at a local fabric store to pick up these:
Either the right needle would be in this aray, or it would be a "magic wand" job. Picking these up resulted in a friendly conversation with a new shop assistant. I came away with requests for information about the various sewing and quilting classes I'm involved with in local Neighbourhood Houses--that's another type of conversation I love.
The repair job turned out to be "doable". The bag was reasonably well made and just one seam had come undone at a wear point. Despite my impressive choice of needles, I ended up repairing the seam in layers. my fingers just don't have the strength of an industrial machine to get through eight thicknesses of bag fabric!
This morning making sure I took the set of needles out of my handbag was a priority. I'm flying interstate in a couple of days. I can just imagine these sharp metal objects showing up at the security screening point. Now there's a conversation I'd rather avoid. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Like This

Here's one of my first experiments with the coffee cup candle holder idea I mentioned yesterday.

Deciding how much decoration to add was the biggest dilemma. I've kept it pretty light in my first few attempts. If I have time later in the week I might just go to town!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


After a couple of sessions of trying out my new beading skills I decided it was time to work out some shortcuts. I do like the sparkle and detail of many tiny glass beads carefully strung together, but it takes far too long to make anything useful. A trip to one of the local Opp Shops yielded this:

I found a set of glass coffee cups with plastic handles. The handles slip off easily leaving an indented ring around what is now a glass cylinder. I'm going to try beading around that ring. The glass is designed for hot drinks, so it should cope with a candle without any trouble. I'll see how I go.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Something New

I've spent a couple of afternoons in the studio learning something new. New for me, that is . . .

This is one of my discarded early attempts. It took me several tries before I got into the rhythm and started to really see the pattern. It's herringbone stitch beading. I found it in a book of Christmas decorations. I think I've got the hang of it now, but it's slow and precise work, so I don't think I'll be doing a lot of it. On the other hand I do like the way the angled silver-lined beads pick up the light.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Classics

'Tis the season for making pretty things . . .

. . . and for keeping secrets!

Just a teaser today before I head back to the studio.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


It's a week until Christmas and there's lots to do, but I haven't got today planned out very well. It's going to be a hot day. I have some gifts to make and the studio would be the ideal place. I have plenty of pretties.

Unfortunately I'm missing some of my basic jewellery findings and supplies. I'm guessing I didn't replentish my tool box after my last creative burst--whenever that was. That means I need to go shopping, which at this time of the year is not my favourite activity. I'll have to think about how I can fit everything in without getting too hot and bothered. Meanwhile I'll brew myself another coffee. Hopefully I can get a bit of focus and make myself a list.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Next Please

I'm ready for a new yarn in for the wristies I'm making. Here's what I chose:

It's similar to the purple yarn I've been using recently, but there's more colour variation and a strand of silk in there. I don't think I'm going to get tired of knitting this any time soon!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Birthday

It was my friend L's birthday yesterday. I celebrated with a short burst of creative energy.

The glass beads had been in my collection for a while. They remind me of little lollies. Just right for a set of sweet, simple summer jewellery.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Ideas

I had a bit of time to kill in one of the city craft superstores yesterday. They generally have a table full of books on clearance. Here's one I picked up.

Polymer clay is new to me. I normally don't choose books that are project based, but this one seems to emphasise the techniques and inspiration involved in each project. I've finished my teaching for the year, so it might be time to explore something new.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More Wristies

I'm still enjoying knitting wristies.

A variety of yarns keeps the task interesting for me. I can make them with or without ruffles and other embellishments. This isn't one of the colours on the list, but when I came across it the other day I couldn't resist. It's one I spun and dyed for another project and I'd nearly forgotten about it. Melbourne hasn't managed much in the way of summer weather so far, but even when things warm up, these are small enough that they're not much trouble at all.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Market Fun

It turned out to be a good day at the House Artisan's Market yesterday. Sussex Neighbourhood House was full, with a steady stream of visitors and an expanding range of participating artists. The Creative Kids group had prepared a lively trail of footprints to lead from one room to another.
Some of the kids were there to participate in the fun of the day. The market is really a community venture--I think that's the best thing. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Keys Please!

My driving lesson with E didn't turn out quite as planned yesterday.

Stalling the car is to be expected of learner driver. In fact E doesn't make that mistake very often, but this time instead of re-starting the car she found herself with a snapped off key in her hand. We declared the lesson officially over!

A couple of phone calls later, I discovered that the clever electronic gizmo that releases the car security needs to be active at the same time as the car is being started. The broken key on the right is my "spare". It has just enough space on the broken off part to grip and turn. The newly broken key was a total loss. A trip to the locksmith revealed that this is a common problem--let's call it a design fault. So instead of practicing steering and gear changes we had an exercise in patience and problem solving.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Behind the Scenes

The House Artisan's Market is on again tomorrow. As usual there are background tasks to be completed in the last few days. I made so many crochet roses a few months ago that I didn't keep up with sewing on all the brooch backs.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in the studio catching up. It was a hot day, so the airconditioner was particularly welcome. I have a bit more to do today. If all goes well I may even have time for some card-making.

Friday, December 9, 2011


I'm happy with the colour variation in this purple hand-dyed yarn, but capturing it on the camera is still a challenge. Today I've decided to try editing the photo itself. I've got a lot to learn, but this is closer to the real thing than what I had originally.
It's another pair of wristies. I have plenty of time to work through my list of requests, so I'm having fun exploring various possibilities rather than than trying to find just one right version. That should give me a nice little collection by the time the cooler weather comes around again. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Word of Mouth

I sold a pair of purple wristies a while ago. I'm guessing the new owner wore them to her class. Now I have this list.

I'm working on the assumption that there's no great hurry--we're just getting into real summer weather--but it's nice to have some clear guidance about what people like. I'll probably make several pairs in most of these colours. People can then choose what they really want. And the rest can go on a market stall for next winter.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The mohair tube scarf is done.

I decided to go with the coral colour and make the join a coral-like ruffle. I need to give it a soak. My knitting in the round is reasonably even, but there are still some irregularities to smooth out.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The challenge: to join the ends of my mohair tube scarf to form a continuous loop.  I don't think I can make the join truly inconspicuous. The alternative is to make it obvious.
At the same time, the principle of letting the yarn do the talking is appealing. So, I'm going to try embellishing the join with a crochet ruffle. It's the same yarn, but a deliberate variation in texture and bulk. I'll see how it looks when I'm done.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Now What?

This morning I cast off the mohair tube scarf.

Now I just need to decide how to finish off the join. Keep it simple? or Embellish it to make a feature?

While I'm thinking about that I'll be casting on another take-along project. I think that will be another knit in the round project--they're so easy to pack and carry, but maybe not another tube. Watch this space .  .  .

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I finished this pair of wristies yesterday.

I'm thinking of them as "pink tutu wristies"--an easy knit with a bit of fun with the ruffles at the end.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Slow Day

Yesterday ended up being a bit of a slow day. I had a go at a crochet flower in the latest variegated yarn. 

I'm still trying to work out how much crochet I can do without over-stressing my joints. I think I got away with this one and I'm happy with the way it's turned out.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Welcome Guest

Sixteen year-old E arrived from interstate yesterday evening. We've been planning this visit for a long time. She's keen to learn to drive and I love to teach. She's also happy to do craft and just generally hang out.

Exploring a bit of Melbourne is also on the agenda. It's going to be interesting to share my home and time with such a welcome guest. I've known her since she was three years old, but I'm sure I've got a lot to learn! I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


My friend L loves this flower brooch. It belongs to her friend H. We've been talking about it for months. Now L has borrowed it so we can have a good look at it.
It was purchased in the UK and I don't know who the designer is, but looking at it again I think it's made commercially. I wouldn't and couldn't copy it. But I'd like to work out some of the reasons it appeals so much. I have red flannel, felt and silk. I have black beads and all sorts of tools, so after being inspired and doing a bit of analysis, I'll see what I can make.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rose Again

I haven't been making rose brooches since my elbow started playing up. I had a skein of variegated yarn which I'd dyed especially, though. It's been talking to me and I've been resisting. This morning I decided to try a knitted rose.  

I like the range of colours. So much so that I'm tempted to risk a bout of crochet to see how it looks in my favourite pattern. Of course the dyed variegations can never really reproduce the beauty of the real thing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Do

I have a guest coming to stay later this week. The spare bed is covered in knitting stuff. And there are various other bits and pieces stored in the spare room that need to find a better home. Clearing that up is a priority for today. The forecast is for a typical hot and windy Melbourne summer day. It's still officially spring here, and later in the week it will be cool and wet. But I shouldn't really wait till later in the week to get things sorted. On the other hand there are lots of crochet flowers to be finished off.

There's a bag full of brooch backs and an airconditioner in the studio. So if it gets too hot I can retreat there and still do something useful. I'll see how I go.

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Mohair

I'm still stitching away at the mohair tube scarf. It's become my take-along project because it's easy to just knit a bit at a time, anytime. The only hold-up is sorting the double-pointed needles when I pull the whole thing out of my knitting bag, but I'm getting better at that. It is growing gradually.

I guess I'm about two-thirds of the way there. I haven't yet decided how I'll finish it. The original plan was to graft or stitch the ends together to make a loop. Then it could be worn as one long loop or doubled over. As I've been knitting, I've been wondering about making a feature of the join, maybe with some beading. Then again I really like the subtle colour changes in the yarn and a feature might distract from that. I don't have to decide yet, so I'll just keep knitting away at it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I hunted out my small stash of handmade papers.

I've been saving them for something special, but none of them have the strength I want for more of the woven balls. I'll have to see what else I can do with them. Maybe saving them is more of a waste than putting them to some good use. That's always the risk of putting materials aside for "special" I guess.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Indigo Balls

I've finished eight of the woven star balls with my handmade indigo paper. I'm quite pleased with how they're turning out.

Now that I'm comfortable with the geometry of the assembly process, the hardest part is cutting the paper strips. I've been using one of my quilting rulers and a stanley knife, but I'm getting blisters on my hand. The paper is tough--almost leathery. I've been starting to check out the possibility of investing in a good paper trimmer. I have a couple of little ones, but they're not up to a heavy duty task like this. Before I do that, I'll see what other lovely thick papers I have for making these balls.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sample, Sample, Sample

I'm getting more confident with the 3-D geometry of these woven balls. And I'm convincing myself that I really can see the 5-pointed star which the strips of card outline on each side. I expect that would be even clearer if the print on the card wasn't so distracting. Then again, it's been nice to put the junk mail to some good use. I have "No Junk Mail" in letters several inches high on my letterbox, but some always slips through.
I have some lovely textured indigo-dyed paper on my shelf. I think it might be time to pull it out and put it to use.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Woven Star Ball

I am inordinately proud of this woven paper ball.

This is my third attempt over as many days--not counting lots of fiddling and grumbling. You can see it's a rough sample: made with strips of card from the back of a furniture catalogue. I found a tutorial here, but even so the last few steps puzzled me for quite a while. I never was good at 3-D puzzles! I've been looking for things to make that don't involve my usual stitching activities, since my elbow is still giving me grief. Now I've got this figured out I'll see how I go making some with a nicer card.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rose Harvest

The weather has been alternating rainy days and warm days here. Good for the weeds! But thankfully also good for the roses. I'm hoping to make some pot pourri sachets for the Christmas market. Every few days there are more rose blooms which have opened up and are ready to add to my collection.
I have yet to decide what recipe I will use this year. In the meantime the petals are drying.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plain and Done

The garter stitch face washer now has a crochet border and hanging loop. That makes it ready to add to the Neighbourhood House Christmas Hamper collection.
I've been slow to finish it because I'm mostly avoiding repetitive stitches at the moment--especially in crochet. And the needle and thread is featured because it still feels like a major achievement to run in the loose ends immediately when I finish the fun part of my knit or crochet creations.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Craft Date

My friend L and I have been planning to get together to fix this necklace for ages.
Every time I've seen her at work lately I've been aware of the little bag of necklace bits sitting on her desk. The necklace was a gift and it's a favourite of hers. Apologies for not crediting the designer--I have no idea. As for the construction methods--I think it really did wear out from overuse! The lightweight coconut shell buttons and sequins are threaded together with something that looks a lot like fishing line. I ended up joining on a piece of tigertail to re-thread the beads that had come adrift.

And the extra little thread on L's black t-shirt--consider it a bonus from my studio. It's impossible to go out there without picking up something.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Studio Slippers

I bought these knitted slippers with bling a year or so ago.

I stumbled across them at the grocery store--who knows why they were there--and thought they were too cute to leave behind. Unfortunately they weren't quite the right shape for my foot, so when my friend L was here yesterday I passed them on for her to use. Turning them over revealed some of their history in my studio!

Friday, November 18, 2011


I'm still nursing my irritated-irritating elbow, so here's another rose to serve as inspiration.

I don't know the name of this one. The bush was in the garden when I arrived here. The combination of soft pinks and yellow-golds complements the dutch gold which I featured a while ago, but this flower is much more delicate. And if you look at the leaves you will see that my rose garden needs more than just weeding! It's going to be hot today though, and I need to take it easy, so that will have to wait.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fibre Fix

Sometimes a class full of enthusiastic students is just the right medicine! Wednesday is my regular quilt class night. And for the second time in a row we had a special guest.
L has just about finished her jelly-roll quilt. All it needs is borders and it will be ready to quilt. She wanted a big space to lay it out and the computer room was available again. As a bonus my students had a chance to enjoy it too. I won't be surprised if a few copies of Pam and Nicky Lintott's Jelly Roll Quilts book are sold this week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


It's official: I have tennis elbow--probably as a result of recent wild weeding efforts. Unfortunately the treatment involves rest plus anti-inflammatories and appropriate exercises. And most of my crafting activities rely on being able to flex my elbow. So my pic today is my radio--tuned as usual to ABC Classic FM.
I like to have music in the background as I work, but it's not enough to occupy my mind if I don't have crafts to do. If this goes on much longer I'll be teaching myself to work left-handed. I did teach myself to knit in the continental style a while ago, but I don't know if that action will protect my inflamed tendon enough. Oh well, I'll just have to see how things go.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I'm not sure when, where or why I picked up this cone of yarn.
It's quite a sturdy cotton. I've started knitting it into a bath mat, though that won't go anywhere near finishing it off . . . and yes, the dog hairs on the floor are another part of my domestic reality!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Something Else

Here's something else I've been working on lately.

To add some perspective to the picture: it's lace-weight alpaca yarn and that pink blob in the top left-hand corner is the tip of my index finger. This is going to have to be blocked when it's done. At the moments it's a bit of a wrinkly mess, but that's not unexpected. And apologies in advance . . . it's coming into gift-giving season and I'm planning on some hand-made gifts, so there will probably be some cryptic posts in the next little while.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Today I need to spend some more time in the garden. Those weeds are not going to go away on their own. Here's another one of my roses to remind me that it's worth the effort.

I don't know the name of this one. The flower is relatively small, but the variegated petals are so much fun.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stitch by Stitch

I'm continuing to knit the mohair tubular scarf. Here's where I'm up to this morning.

It's a simple knit: around and around; one stitch at a time. Every stitch is the same--and yet every stitch is different. That's the fascination for me. I love the steady repetition and the subtle colour changes.

 . . . by the way, this is knit on 3.5 mm needles, so on my screen at least the pic is bigger than life size.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tube Scarf

I've been working away at the mohair tubular scarf in various odd bits of time.
I've just finished re-knitting the yarn that I'd ripped out from my previous attempt. Thankfully it held up quite well to all the handling. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guest Appearance

My friend Vireya was kind enough to bring her quilt to my class last night.

This isn't the best pic of what is really an interesting and very clever quilt. The quilt top was on the table and I decided not to climb up on a chair in front of a room full of students.

The quilt gave us lots of different aspects to discuss and the students loved it. Afterwards Vireya was able to use the big table next door to get the basting done. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another Re-think

I didn't have a particular project in mind when I spun up this mohair yarn. It was just a case of making the most of the characteristics of the fibre. I knew I wanted to keep the design simple. What could be simpler than a garter stitch scarf? I tried that. The result was disappointing. Yesterday I pulled out what I'd done and had another go.

What about stocking stitch?

All very well, but the inevitable curling of the edges would be a problem.

OK, if it's going to curl anyway, what about knitting a tube?
No, it's not another pair of wristies. I'm going to try a tubular scarf. At this stage I'm thinking I'll join the ends so it can be looped around  one or more times. The smooth outer texture of the knitting shows up the lustre and halo of the mohair beautifully and the subtle colour variations should be a feature. I'll see how it goes. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pretty Plain

This garter stitch square will be a pretty face washer.
A crochet border will dress it up just enough I think. Last week I made one entirely in crochet with one of my little flowers to add a bright spot. Unfortunately my muscles didn't enjoy the constant repetition of the one stitch--there's a twisting motion in the wrist involved in crochet which gets wearing after a while. I've had to be careful since then not to do more than a bit at a time until things settle down. That's a pity because often it's the meditative rhythm of the work that I enjoy.

Monday, November 7, 2011


"Rhapsody in Blue" is the name of this climbing rose. I have two of them growing on my front fence.
The picture colour is fairly true to life this time--on my monitor at least. I often have trouble with purple shades. And it's not exactly what I would call "blue", but it's on the blue side for a rose anyway. Dead-heading these roses is about the only thing I got done yesterday. Apart from a bit of random knitting. It was rather a slow day for me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


When I decided to investigate quilt as you go techniques yesterday I had visions of a systematic process with carefully labelled samples. The reality turned out to be a bit different.

By the time I got to the studio I was less than enthusiastic. The morning was hotter than I'd expected. The weeds are tough and persistent. Digging made me tired, dirty and sweaty. Then I took a while to cool down and clean up. There was laundry to do. And yes, my studio is rather a mess at the moment. . . Are you getting the idea? On the other hand, I had declared that I was going to do something. So I made a quick, rough start. Sometimes just having a go without any finesse isn't such a bad idea. I'll have another go soon. Next time I'll use bigger samples so I can leave a good few centimetres of unquilted edge around each block. I'll trim the wadding more carefully and try to join more than a couple of blocks together. That's the plan, anyway. But I don't think it will be today. I've ended up with a sore stiff back after my digging efforts. Sitting and sewing won't be the best activity for me today. Unfortunately, neither will digging more weeds this morning. And it's going to be another hot day. I might just need to declare myself a holiday and settle down with a good book.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I've been investigating the idea of "quilt as you go" lately. Frankly the challenge of trying to fit a large quilt under a small domestic sewing machine has become a little stale. And I have students facing the same issue. The idea of quilt as you go is to quilt smaller units and then combine them to make the finished quilt. It seems like a logical solution to the problem. As I say, I've been investigating . . . and there are several different approaches to the challenge. Now it's time to choose an approach and try it. I won't use a full size quilt, though. I'd like to try a few of the different techniques and I don't want to waste time, effort and fabric. On the other hand I had set aside these fabrics as scrap.
Just right to use for a sample--and they even match. In fact the floral looks better than I remember it with a little morning sunshine and the contrast of the timber table top . . .

Here's my plan for the day. The forecast is for 30--double what it was earlier in the week. I still have plenty of weeding to do in the garden. I'll tackle that before the weather warms up too much. Then I can turn the air conditioner on in my studio and have a go at this. Unfortunately the studio is rather a mess at the moment, but I should be able to clear enough space. 

Friday, November 4, 2011


When I first tried the rose-in-a-square pattern from the Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches, I had two criticisms: it was a bit too square and a bit too flat. Considering that it was designed as a motif to be made into a blanket, maybe criticism isn't the right word. Anyway, I wanted to use it as a flower brooch, so square and flat weren't such desirable features.

Changing the sequence of stitches for the edges of the petal helped solve the square issue. Now I think I've found a solution for flatness. 
I added a couple of extra stitches to each petal. That makes the whole flower a bit tighter and pushes the petals together just a bit. I think it's better.